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Safe and Sound in Port au Prince

Tent City

Photo by Samir Mehta

We are now safe and sound in Port au Prince. We are in a secure tent city. There is water here, and we ate well on the plane. We gave our remaining food away to Haitians and elected to survive on Power bars until we reach the hospital sometime tomorrow.

The drive in from the airport was interesting. Only a few lights were on due to limited power (mainly from generators). People were out everywhere on the streets as they are afraid to sleep in their homes. Some food vendors were out, especially near the airport. There is tight security near the UN headquarters which is now beside the airport.

Devastation is everywhere.  While some  buildings are standing, every block has damaged houses, some are just piles of rubble.

The Haitian people we have met are very grateful and are gentle, polite people.   I find this amazing considering the state of life they find themselves in.

Keeping Our Gear

All of our gear is still with us. We will sleep with the important gear, and get up early to make sure another team is not tempted.  No worries; the drugs are under the watchful eyes of the ladies and the ortho supplies are guarded by the ortho docs.  They now snarl at anyone who walks by their tent. Ha!

Meeting Other Medical Relief Teams

There are teams from several other institutions here; most of them are working in the city. They report improving supplies, but increasing frustration over poor collaboration between groups as well as critical needs such as no working autoclave in the Port au Prince major hospital. They say that they still have several hundred patients with ortho injuries, such as open fractures, waiting for surgery.

Looking Ahead

The ride to the hospital where we will work is expected to take 4 hours due to the road conditions.  We do not have a departure time but are hopeful it will be fairly early to allow us to start working tomorrow and to avoid travel in the heat of the day.


This report was written by Michael Ashburn, MD, MPH, MBA, during his participation in Haitian relief efforts through Penn Medicine in coordination with Partners in Health.


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